A Tom Cruise aircraft lands in Slovakia

This weekend will be full of events in Bratislava, from traditional crafts and a vintage festival to planes.

The Freemasonry Chain of 200 handmade hearts, which was created during lockdowns, has been installed on Rázus Square in Bratislava's Old Town.The Freemasonry Chain of 200 handmade hearts, which was created during lockdowns, has been installed on Rázus Square in Bratislava's Old Town. (Source: Barbora Jančárová/Facebook - Staré Mesto - srdce Bratislavy)

This week, we are writing about an Argentinian footballer playing for Slovakia and a documentary about a fired miner. Our podcast is on the Malá Fatra region, and we also include tips for Bratislava weekend events.

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Argentinian footballer joins Slovakia's national team

He grew up in Rosario, the hometown of Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi, and lived in Spain, but Vernon de Marco has become Slovak, obtaining citizenship this May.

The footballer came to Slovakia in the summer of 2012 for the first time to play in the eastern Slovak town of Michalovce.

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"I had to Google where it was," he said about Slovakia in a YouTube video posted by the Slovan Bratislava football club, for which de Marco has played for the past three seasons.

During the 2020/2021 season, he was even named the best left defender in Slovakia’s top football league. Recently, the 28-year-old player was invited to join the Slovak national squad.

"Representing Slovakia is a dream," he said back in May, as quoted by Sportsnet. "On the other hand, I did not apply for citizenship just to play for Slovakia."

He went on to say that he felt proud to become Slovak and was happy to live in the country.

In the past, four other players born outside Slovakia joined the national team, including Karim Guédé from Togo, David Depetris from Argentina, Serbian Boris Sekulič, and Brazilian Dionatan do Nascimento Teixeira, who died in 2017.

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  • Paralympics: Slovak athletes have won several medals this week at the Tokyo Paralympics, including in the club throw, table tennis, cycling and boccia.


What to do this September: Travel over the Malá Fatra region

"I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life," Briton David Cartwright said about his choice to move to the Žilina Region two years ago.

In the Spectacular Slovakia podcast, he claims Žilina has all he needs for life and it is a fantastic place to be.

The city that boasts a vibrant cultural scene is surrounded by hills, and many beautiful places within the Žilina Region can be easily reached from here, including the villages Strečno and Terchová, both situated in the Malá Fatra mountain range.

In Strečno, visitors can explore a well-known castle ruin and raft in Slovakia's longest river, Váh. Terchová, on the other hand, brings the legend of Jánošík to life.

Strečno and Terchová are ideal starting points for hiking and cycling.

"Wherever you are in Terchová, you always see the beautiful peak of Veľký Rozsutec," Róbert Hlaváč, who is involved in local tourism, said. "It has some magic that makes you feel very comfortable."

Other travel ideas:

  • Before hitting the Small Carpathian Mountains trails, be sure to check out our map with sights to visit in the mountain range.

  • In Malacky, a town near Bratislava, visitors can play golf and explore the architectural legacy left behind by the Pálffy family, a dynasty renowned for impressive castles and gothic restoration, which had a significant influence on the town.


How a fired Czech miner became a programmer

44-year-old Tomáš Hisem spent 25 years of his life underground.

In the mine, he communicated using a few words with his colleagues. Under stressful conditions, he often just swore. He used to go to Baník Ostrava football matches to let off steam, singing simple and slightly vulgar fan chants.

No one ever trained him to speak in public. He is not a natural orator, but he agreed to the A New Shift (Nová šichta) documentary about him, which, after the closure of the Paskov mines, follows his attempt to complete a retraining course and completely change his profession.

The former miner is now pursuing a career as a programmer.

Other developments from this week:

  • On Slovakia's Constitution Day celebrations, which were held on September 1, Niagara Falls in Canada was illuminated in the colours of the Slovak flag for the first time in history.

  • One of the best WWII tanks in the world will undergo a full restoration.

  • Archaeologists have discovered 2,000-year-old peas and wheat grains near Poprad.

  • One of the largest and most popular traditional fairs in Slovakia, Radvanský jarmok, will take place in the centre of Banská Bystrica on September 10-12. Folk medicine, magic and beekeeping will be this year's themes.


A rare plant gets a new home

Despite being seldom seen and protected, creeping marshwort had to make way for the extension of a Bratislava tram line.

Because the tram line in the Bratislava borough of Petržalka will continue from Bosáková Street to the Janíkov Dvor area alongside the Chorvátske Rameno canal where the plant grows, it had to be transferred to the end of the canal near Bosáková Street, 10 metres above a floating pontoon bridge. Here, special conditions and terrain were created for creeping marshwort.

The species grows in water-inundated grasslands as well as in artificially created water areas such as Chorvátske Rameno. As the plant is prone to a rapid fall in water levels, its occurrence and abundance are variable.

For changes in the water regime of wetlands and the loss of suitable habitats, creeping marshwort is under protection in Slovakia.

Weekend events in the capital

  • DISPLAY: The Textile Art of Today exhibition, featuring 83 artists from all over the world, will open on September 4 at the Danubiana art gallery.
  • AIR FESTIVAL: The largest air show in Slovakia, SIAF, will take place during the weekend in the Bratislava Region. One of the highlights will be a giant aircraft that appeared in the Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation movie, which Tom Cruise starred in. The plane landed in Slovakia shortly before 11:00 on September 3.
  • CRAFTS: Traditional crafts will be showcased on Hviezdoslav Square on September 4-5 from 10:00 to 18:00.
  • MUSIC: The Sharpe music festival and conference will be held in the Nová Cvernovka arts space on September 3-4. This year's line-up is published here, and tickets can be purchased on this link.
  • WINE: The annual vintage festival will take place on September 4 in the Devín borough, from 10:00 to 21:00 right underneath Devín Castle.


The place that Pope Francis will visit

Šaštín, a small western-Slovak town with a basilica, has been marked on a religious map since the Middle Ages.

"It is considered the national Marian shrine and as such has a special place among Slovakia's churches," priest Juraj Tirpák told The Slovak Spectator.

Its beginnings as a pilgrimage site date back to the second half of the 16th century, closely connected to a legend about a married couple: Countess Angelika Bakičová and her husband Imrich Czobor. Although various events played an important role in Šaštín becoming a popular pilgrimage site, there are several other factors, including its location.

Pilgrimages took place even under communism, but they became more popular after 1989. About 400,000 people flocked to Šaštín in 1995 to attend a mass served by Pope John Paul II.

Fast forward 26 years later, the town is getting ready for Pope Francis' visit, albeit with fewer people in attendance due to the pandemic.

That's it for now. Thanks for joining me. Have a great weekend. - Peter

Do you have any tips? You can reach Peter at peter.dlhopolec@spectator.sk.

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